In December, the temperature ranges between 6°C and 20°C, ideal for visiting Marrakech without being too hot! During the day you can walk around the Medina in shirtsleeves, while at night a sweatshirt or light jacket will suffice.
And if you feel like exploring the desert, you've chosen the right time of year, as you can tour the Sahara while avoiding the scorching summer temperatures. Read on and discover the 10 activities you can do in Marrakech in the last month of the year.
1. Stargazing in the Sahara
If you're looking for a different kind of tour, why not choose a trip to the desert of Marrakech? About seven hours drive from Marrakech is the Zagora desert, one of the most coveted destinations for stargazing. In this natural setting you can take a camel ride, enjoy the sunset, stay in a camp under the stars and enjoy a typical dinner and music show.
The Sahara Desert is the ideal place for stargazing. The almost non-existent light pollution and the almost always clear night skies make it an essential stage for any constellation enthusiast. According to experts, the town of M'Hamid is not only the gateway to the desert but also a privileged place to see the Milky Way.
2. Enjoy the Majorelle Garden without too much heat
The tour of the Majorelle gardens is a must on your trip to Marrakech. In 1919, Jacques Majorelle arrived in Marrakech and fell madly in love with the city. Gradually, the French painter acquired adjoining plots of land to reach an area of four hectares and created gardens with 60 varieties of cacti, palms, coconut palms, weeping willows, jasmine bushes, bougainvillea and hundreds of other species.
Over the years, the maintenance of this oasis was driving Majorelle to ruin so much that he was forced to open his garden to the public for an entrance fee. In the 1960s, Yves Saint Laurent and his friend Pierre Bergé discovered the Majorelle Gardens and decided to create an association to rescue them.
Thanks to the stylist's intervention, the Majorelle Gardens have earned their well-deserved fame and today attract thousands of tourists. December is a good month to visit this green lung, as you will avoid the summer heat. The gardens are open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entrance at 4:30 p.m.).
3. Immortalize the best sunsets
It is no secret that sunsets are at their most beautiful in winter. At this time of the year, the Earth rotates closer to the sun and its angle at sunset makes the colors of the sunset last a little longer. And if you are lucky enough to have clouds, the effect will be even more magical! In December, the sky of the Red City is tinged with saffron, cyclamen and purple: a colorful glitter that will take your breath away
If you want to go home with a nice souvenir, you can take some pictures from Jemaa el Fna Square. At nightfall, the silhouette of the Koutubia Mosque gives us a romantic picture. Another place that acquires a magical touch is the Palm Grove of Marrakech, a green area a short distance from the center. For your visit I recommend that you opt for a tour of the Palm Grove of Marrakech. The same scene is repeated in the Menara Gardens, but be careful, the park closes at 17:00 and at this time of year it gets dark a little later.
4. Explore the Zagora Desert
About 355 kilometers from Marrakech lies the Zagora Desert, an arid, rocky landscape named after the city of the same name. Because of the distance, it is best to book a two-day, one-night Zagora desert excursion to allow time to visit the area. One of the most popular activities is the Jebel Zagora hill climb.
The city is known as "the gateway to the desert" and while its fortunes were once based on trade, today tourism is the driving force of the region. Zagora is the starting point for various desert excursions by camel, quad or 4x4. A short distance away is also the Ksar of Tissergate, a medieval fortification, and the Draa Valley, a green area dotted with palm trees, pomegranates and apricot trees. In December you will enjoy all this without melting in the heat.
5. Go shopping in the souk
If you are a Christmas enthusiast and want to experience a different shopping experience, the souk stalls are an unmissable stop. Among the streets and squares of the Medina you can buy spices, ceramics, Berber jewelry, leather bags, wickerwork and all kinds of goods of different qualities and price ranges. The ideal to return home with some Christmas gifts with an exotic touch. If you want your experience to be as comfortable as possible, don't hesitate to book a tour of the souk in Marrakech
Be careful: in Morocco, shopping is synonymous with haggling- never settle for the first price! If you don't feel like it, you will find dozens of European-style stores and boutiques in the Gueliz district. To encourage shopping, many merchants have begun to introduce Christmas sales. If you want to know how to get from the souk to the Gueliz district, I advise you to read the post How to get around Marrakech.
6. Relive the recent history of Morocco in La Maison de la Photographie
When the temperatures drop, you can find some warmth at La Maison de la Photographie, Marrakech's only cultural institution dedicated to photography. In my opinion, it is the most interesting museum in the city, as its snapshots capture the essence of the country and allow us to discover life in Morocco in the 20th and 19th centuries.
This extensive private collection was created in 2009 by Parisian Hamid Mergani and Patrick Manac'h from Marrakech. The permanent exhibition "Photographic Treasures of Morocco" (a selection of prints bringing together scenes and portraits of Moroccan life from 1860 to 1960) is flanked by some very interesting temporary exhibitions.
La Maison de la Photographie is open daily, from 9:30 am to 7 pm, and children under 15 years old can enter free of charge. Another plus point is its cozy rooftop café where you can enjoy traditional cuisine and splendid views over the Atlas Mountains. If you feel like exploring the area, I advise you to read the post what to see and do in the Medina of Marrakech or even book a tour of the Medina Marrakech.
7. Be captivated by the Bahia Palace
Built by the Grand Vizier Si Moussa in the 19th century, the Bahia Palace was later enlarged and embellished by his son and successor Abu 'Bou' Ahmed. This large building is located about fifteen minutes walk from Jemaa el Fnaa Square and has 150 rooms and a harem. After the death of Bou Ahmed, the palace was ransacked and the assailants took all the valuables.
With the arrival of the French, the people who had settled inside were forced to leave the site to allow the Resident General to move in. When Morocco gained independence from France, the palace became the residence of King Hassan II who entrusted its management to the Moroccan Ministry of Culture. Today, the Bahia Palace is a cultural icon and a busy tourist attraction. Luckily, in December you will find fewer people queuing for access.
8. Escape from Christmas
Christmas is a magical time but shopping can be a bit overwhelming. If you want to take a break, Marrakech is your ideal destination. Being a country of Muslim faith, trees, Three Kings and nativity scenes are relegated to a few places, for example at the Royal Mansour and La Mamounia hotels, the best hotel in the world.
If you want to find something typical for Christmas, head to the Marjane hypermarkets, where you can find European and British food. Don't expect the variety that Spanish supermarkets offer, but you will surely be able to go home with a nougat or a French Christmas dessert. In the same establishment you can buy a bottle of red wine or other spirits. And if you are looking for more tips, don't hesitate to take a guided tour of Marrakech
9. Experience the atmosphere of the International Film Festival
Between the end of November and the beginning of December, Marrakech is at its best. Since 2000, the International Film Festival animates the city's nights with a wide range of premieres and guests such as Robert De Niro, the Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto or the Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia. In addition, the Jemaa el Fna Square becomes a large open-air cinema where you can enjoy some movies for free.
The Maghreb country has been the scene of numerous films, mostly recorded in the town of Ouarzazate. Here you will find the Atlas Studios, a huge set of Egyptian pyramids, Buddhist temples, alleys of ancient Rome and dozens of other scenographies. "Star Wars", "Gladiator" and "The Mummy" are just a few of the feature films that have been shot between this village, the nearby valleys and the fortified city of Ait Ben Haddou.
10. Skiing in Oukaïmeden
Yes, there is snow in Morocco and the season starts in early December. If you feel like tasting the Moroccan snow, you can opt for a getaway in Oukaïmeden, the highest winter resort in Africa. This village is located about 80 km from Marrakech and there are different excursions that leave in the morning and take you back in the afternoon.
Forget luxury and modernity, the facilities at Oukaïmeden are a bit old-fashioned but the experience is worth it. When the peaks are dyed white, thousands of locals flock to the mountains to ski, toboggan down the slopes or simply to take advantage of the wintry atmosphere.
The place is undoubtedly fascinating: the Oukaïmeden resort is located in a massif located at an altitude of 2,600 meters, while the Jebel Attar peak reaches 3,258 meters. From there you can choose between 3 green, 4 blue, 8 red and 3 black runs. If you decide to reach the winter resort on your own, you don't have to worry about equipment as you can rent skis and boots once there.
Temperatures in Marrakech in December
In the last month of the year, the weather is quite pleasant. Normally, temperatures range between 6º and 20º while in the nearby deserts, the thermal amplitude can be more evident. In Zagora, for example, nights can be freezing (in some cases negative temperatures are recorded) while during the day it is possible to reach 23º.
In December, rainfall takes center stage: it is one of the rainiest months in Morocco. Even so, they do not usually last too long and, after a light storm, the sky is clear again. In short, if you are looking for a sun and beach destination, this is not the right month. However, if you want to visit the city without the crowds, take a trip into the desert or explore the Atlas Mountains, December is the ideal time.
The influx of tourists in Marrakech in December
As for the tourist flow, we can divide December into two parts: in the first fortnight you will not find crowds of travelers while from the days before Christmas until December 31 the situation changes. On festive dates, many tourists come to the city to greet the New Year admiring the stars in the desert or partying in the hotels and restaurants of Marrakech.
Prices in Marrakech in December
In Morocco and in particular in Marrakech, the high season coincides with spring. Generally, you will find cheaper prices at the beginning of the month. To coincide with the vacation season, rates go up. Are you up for a visit to the Red City in December? In the article 11 tips for visiting Marrakech you will find some useful suggestions.
What to bring in your suitcase to visit Marrakech in December
If you have decided to visit the Red City in December, you should pack a variety of clothes. The thermal amplitude is quite marked and, therefore, it is advisable to dress in layers. If you are limited to a few days in Marrakech, you can make do with pants, jeans, sweaters, hoodies and an autumn jacket for the evenings.
If you plan to explore the mountains, be sure to pack a waterproof jacket, thermal clothing and hiking boots. Being a month marked by precipitation, it is always best to bring a raincoat.
Keep in mind that heating is not very common. If you are staying in a private house or a budget hotel, you might get a bit cold at night. To avoid this, you can take a sleeping bag or blanket with you. If you don't feel like carrying extra weight, in the souk of Marrakech you will find dozens of stalls where you can buy quilts and other textiles.